When we stepped through the door we could hardly believe our eyes … the stunning maisonette suite with gold surfaces, a chandelier, a curved staircase and a panoramic view of Dubai … and that was our room?
“Would you like me to unpack for you, Mr. and Mrs. Silver?”
We weren’t just in a hotel, we were in Burj Al Arab, once called the most luxurious and only 7-star hotel in the world.
It was a hotel that made me curious for a long time, but I wasn’t sure if I should stay there. Would the design feel garish? Would it be so exaggerated that it would be vulgar? And was it really nothing more than a glorified tourist attraction? Well there was only one way to find out. I hugged and ahhed a bit but eventually we booked the Burj al Arab … and I was super excited to stay there.
The Burj al Arab is located on its own artificial island and is majestically decorated with an iconic sail-like structure. It can only be reached via a bridge – or by helicopter if you want to land on the roof top helipad. At 321 m, it is higher than the Eiffel Tower and the tallest all-suite hotel in the world.
The hotel is even served by a fleet of Rolls Royce Phantoms that can be rented as replacement vehicles.
The lobby provides the backdrop for the grandeur of the rest of the hotel …
With a fountain and escalators, flanked by an aquarium.
It even has the tallest atrium in the world, which is a true architectural feat.
The upper deck of the foyer is lined with gold, more fountains, and shiny mosaics, and you can choose from the luxury jewelry stores of the highest order.
Each room at the Burj al Arab is a suite and has butler service. There is a butler dedicated to each floor so we sat at a desk just outside our room whenever we needed it. The lower floor of the room is a spacious living area with a huge widescreen TV, a separate home office with Mac computer, a bar, lots of comfy couches and of course the floor to ceiling windows with incredible views.
After seeing lots of photos of the bold blue, red, and gold color scheme, I feared it would get sticky, but it was absolutely gorgeous and felt super luxurious. I also feared it might be out of date, but it was completely flawless!
The attention to detail is exquisite and there was a lovely cake, bottle of Louis Roederer champagne and fresh fruit to welcome us. If you fancy making your own coffee, there is even a gold coffee maker that matches the Burj al Arab color scheme.
The room service menu is extensive and offers many different cuisines. Breakfast is included in the price, whether you have it in your room or in the restaurant. You can order it anytime.
Up the curved stairs is the bedroom suite …
Again with royal upholstered furniture …
And panoramic windows …
Our bed was covered with purple curtains … there is even a mirror on the ceiling! A cot had been set up for Oscar next to our bed, and they left a toy camel and a teddy bear. We didn’t even notice until we got home, but the teddy bear was personalized with Oskar’s name! The curtains, TV, music, and lights were all on a nifty remote by the bed.
I liked the beautiful dressing area and the butler unpacked everything perfectly here. I really enjoyed getting ready here every night. There’s even a blue and gold Dyson hair dryer!
The bathroom is special too, and echoes the bold colors of the master suite – there are even gold fixtures and sconces on the wall. Bright mosaic tiles add to the luxurious feeling!
Each room has a jacuzzi and a five head shower. They are fully stocked with Hermes products and we have received luxury baby products for Oscar.
I’ve had butler service before, but this really is the next level. Every afternoon the butler brings afternoon tea and makes you your favorite drink … there was even this for the kids … and big kids like us.
He noticed when our clothes needed to be pressed, shoes shone, and restaurants and the salon booked for us … it was really top notch service.
The pool deck is a relatively new addition to the hotel, which opened in 2017. The terrace protrudes from the hotel and consists of two pools, a restaurant and a bar.
These huge wicker chairs were perfect for lying down with O.
And they had a great view of the hotel’s infinity pool.
Otherwise, you could sit down at the pool bar and order a cocktail.
Scape restaurant serves food all day and we were there for breakfast most days.
The buffet was really high quality and served all kinds of cuisines – there was even a chocolate fountain! Everything was done to make Oscar comfortable, and he loved chewing toast fingers in his high chair.
We came back to Scape for lunch but I have to say we were a little disappointed as the food was poor value, small portions and mediocre. The prawns didn’t taste fresh and we paid around £ 40 for a tiny sea bass fillet and a piece of asparagus.
One thing I really recommend if you have a day by the pool is renting a cabana.
There are two different sized cabanas at different prices and we opted for a larger one with a private bathroom. Included was a living area with TV, fresh fruit and soft drinks …
An outside balcony overlooking the sea.
And a terrace overlooking the pool.
A luxurious bathroom with high quality amenities and a private shower. It was absolutely perfect to do with Oscar as they also put a cot in the cabana so he could take a nap while we sat outside.
Speaking of food, Mr S. and I tried the two typical restaurants in the hotel during our stay. Both restaurants only allow children over the age of 8 for dinner (although they are allowed for lunch) so Mr S. and I took the opportunity to get a babysitter and have a few dates.
Al Muntaha (The Ultimate) is at the height of the restaurant and offers panoramic views of the city. It serves fine French cuisine from Chef Francky Semblat, who previously worked with Joel Robuchon.
Adjacent to Al Muntaha and on the 27th floor is the Skyview Bar and Restaurant, where you can enjoy cocktails and tapas. Or you can totally blow it up and go to gold on the 27th.
Probably the most opulent bar I’ve ever seen! Gold is actually covered with 1,790 m² of 24-carat gold leaf!
Mr S. and I also visited Al Mahara (which means oyster shell) which was in an aquarium so we felt like we were dining under the sea!
The design of this restaurant is just spectacular and we loved the Kim Joinié-Maurin fish menu. Both restaurants were pretty expensive. If you choose one, I would go with Al Mahara.
Other options include Junsui (a pan-Asian buffet), Sahn Eddar (a lounge bar in the atrium) and Al Iwan for Arabic cuisine.
If none of these eateries aren’t your thing, the Burj al Arab offers a buggy ride to nearby Madinat Jumeirah, which has tons of other eateries and activities. It was really useful to us as the hotel’s two main restaurants had age restrictions and we stayed here for two of our four nights. It was very convenient to go to other restaurants but not take a taxi.
The Talise Spa on the 18th floor is 180 meters above the Arabian Gulf and has more than 8,200 square meters of facilities. There is a separate area for men and women with a jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, as well as the communal pool above with a view of the city. Guests can book all kinds of luxury treatments, including the high-end La Prairie brand. The kid’s club is on the same floor as the spa and is quite small and not particularly impressive. However, there are toys, games, books, and kids have access to the Kid’s Club at Madinat Jumeirah, which has a wide variety of indoor and outdoor activities. You also have access to the nearby Wild Wadi Waterpark. Given the restaurant wasn’t very kid friendly I wouldn’t say the Burj al Arab was the ideal place to take your kids but it was great having the pre-Oscar stay too reliant on entertainment.
Although the Burj al Arab is not the ideal hotel for children or babies, I still loved it. The rooms are totally insane, the butler service is second to none and we loved the restaurants, pool and spa! I was scared to stay there, it turned out to be one of my favorite hotels!
Great for kids
Access to Wild Wadi Waterpark
Extensive pool deck
Great in room decor for kids
Great for parents
High-end restaurants and bars (bar is kid-free, restaurants for over eight)
Extremely high level of service (butler)
A note – I was in the Burj al Arab before Covid’s travel restrictions in March and I withheld from publishing this post because it didn’t feel quite right. However, I found it appropriate for this month’s travel connection, hence the publication now. It seems very strange to us to eat at the buffet and not have any social distance in this current climate!
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